Please find here the recording of the CM family update held Monday, February 22nd, 2021.
Some of you may have heard about adjusted guidelines from BOTH the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Indiana State Department of Health (IDOH) regarding guidelines for reopening schools to in-person learning. Our staff have reviewed the recommendations and have made adjustments to our pandemic plan in response to these recommendations. All of the details of the new guidance can be found at the following links. For the CDC guidance, please visit this document, ED COVID-19 Handbook Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools and for the IDOH guidance, click the link here.
Defining Community Montessori’s social distancing/grouping process and groupings of children. CM has been validated by the level of mitigation that we do, in that we have had no community spread that we can identify. However, we do want to be clear with on-campus families that before- and after-care (Extended Learning) enrolled children are in the physical presence of varied children and adults. During the school day, children do stay in stable studio groupings (you may read about his method as “pods” or “cohorts”), with the exception of adults who may rotate in the space for breaks and such as necessary (i.e. if there are staff quarantined, out ill, or absent for other reasons).
Community Montessori will still use 6ft to contact trace for any positive cases, and the only quarantine length for symptomatic individuals or close contacts will remain at 14 days. We do not have forward facing classrooms as defined for the 3ft quarantine guidance - in fact, our studios have a large amount of freedom of movement. Therefore, we will continue to contract trace for quarantine from contacts within 6ft. The safest “gold standard” (and least complicated) way of quarantine continues to be a 14 day quarantine for either symptomatic individuals or close contacts of a COVID case. Therefore we will not use additional testing scenarios to allow close contacts to reduce their quarantine length. In fact, in response to other information you may have seen regarding vaccine effectiveness and immunity in those who have tested positive to COVID, we will also require those in these categories to continue to quarantine for 14 days after close contact.
The CDC provided new guidelines for definitions of community transmission. (These are different from the “color coded” categories from the State of Indiana’s website). The table guidelines are intended to define the level of community spread (from CDC’s New Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation), and to help schools know what strategies are needed to implement based on the level of county level community transmission. CM is attempting to use this CDC table’s definition of our counties’ status as the determination of level of community spread.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, and definitions - reference the original link on the CDC website where this table is displayed: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/indicators.html
Ventilation as a mitigation strategy. As a new school building, Community Montessori does have a newer HVAC and ventilation system than some schools. We do have energy recovery units throughout the building that change the air several times a day.
Changes to on-campus learning:
Both the CDC and the ISDH are recommending multi-layered masks for better protection against spread of COVID. For on campus learning, Community Montessori is requiring that all masks should be two-ply or more. (This may mean some masks, and especially “gaiter” or “scarf” style masks may not provide enough protection.) Many masks have multiple layers of material already sewn in. This is NOT a requirement to wear two masks, though that is also a recommendation from the CDC as a possible way to reduce risk of transmission.
There is some good news:
The State of Indiana is sending some PPE including KN95 masks, gowns, etc. to school staff. Along with this, they are offering BINAX Rapid Tests (40) to schools. With rapid tests potentially having a ⅓ chance of false negatives (and maybe the same for false positives) we will just use these as one tool in our mitigation efforts. The benefit of this is that with parental consent, we can test learners (in addition to staff) who are symptomatic just before sending them home. If the result is positive for COVID, we can immediately begin contact tracing and quarantine based on the close contacts of the tested individuals, rather than waiting for a test to be done in the community. This allows us to contain any spread much more quickly. HOWEVER, if the result is negative, the individual will STILL have to quarantine for 14 days, unless a negative PCR (non-rapid) test confirms that they are negative.